E3 2012: Darksiders 2 Hands-On Preview

By John Wippersteg on July 1, 2012, 5:47PM EDT
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The original Darksiders was the big hit of January 2010, surprising a lot of people by offering an interesting combination of gameplay mechanics and storytelling. Darksiders 2 hopes to build on that success and based on the demo we played at E3 it looks like it should do so with considerable ease.

The segment of the game we were allowed to play was the first level of the game. This is a nice treat compared to a lot of demos at E3, as it gives you a feel for how the game is going to progress, as well as providing insight on the story. The game began with a very good looking cutscene detailing how your character, Death, is on a mission to save his brother War, from what he believes to be a conspiracy by the Charred Council. The level began with the player climbing up a path along the side of this mountain. This was also a useful place to have the standard running, jumping and climbing tutorial, which was nicely done and not obtrusive.

After the brief tutorial segment, small enemy encounters peppered the climb which were no trouble to dispatch using a few basic combos. The combat is very similar to games like God of War and Devil May Cry but without the insanity and over the top elements. These brief encounters eventually gave way to a straight out of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, style climbing segment. However unlike Prince of Persia where you just hopped back on the ledge with no cost to yourself, in Darksiders 2, you lose half your health every time you fall, which emphasized the need to take your time. Thankfully though the game placed you right back before the climbing segment every time which means that while mistakes were costly, they were not also tedious. The controls felt a little finicky in this segment but hopefully that will have been ironed out before the game is on store shelves.

As Death nears the top of the mountain the enemies become more intense and harder to kill. This gave me a chance to explore the combat system more fully and experiment with a whole variety of moves which should hopefully keep the game interesting all the way through, especially as more options are unlocked and more weapons become available later in the game. The demo ended with a boss fight against your brother War, which relied on your ability to figure out his tell to damage him without the risk of being hit.

One interesting element is that the developers at Vigil have implemented a light loot system with enemies dropping swords and armor in a Diablo-esque fashion to allow the player to customize the experience and have Death play more to their liking. This is compounded by the skill tree which seemed quite simple and easy to navigate, although there was not much time or ability to truly experience this as we were at the beginning of the game.

Darksiders 2 is coming out on the PS3, Xbox 360 and PC August 14th in North America and the 20th of August in Europe. It will also be available at some point on the Nintendo Wii U, although it has not been confirmed as a launch title yet.

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